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Jack T. Chick's rendition of Alberto
|Born||September 19, 1935
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
|Died||June 20, 1997 (aged 61)
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
|Resting place||Rose Hill Cemetery in Tulsa, Oklahoma|
|Known for||Anti-Catholic religious activist|
Alberto Magno Romero Rivera (September 19, 1935 – June 20, 1997) was an anti-Catholic religious activist who was the source of many of the conspiracy theories about the Vatican espoused by fundamentalist Christian author Jack Chick.
Chick promised to promote Rivera's claims even after he died. Rivera claimed to have been a Jesuit before becoming a Fundamentalist Protestant, and many of the stories Chick published about Rivera involve Jesuit conspiracies.
Rivera was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. He is most notable for his claims about his time as a Catholic priest and the inner workings of the Catholic Church. Most of these claims are fiercely disputed by the Catholic Church and others. An exposé by Gary Metz in Cornerstone magazine as well as another one in Christianity Today questioned many of Rivera's claims about his life, alleging that he was a fraud. The two conflicting versions are summarized below.
According to Rivera, he was brought into a seminary in 1942 when he was 7. Two years later, as his mother was dying, she saw "ugly creatures" coming at her deathbed, and faced a "Christless eternity" because of her Catholic faith. When visiting his mother's grave, Rivera vowed to find answers to "the truth". After education at a Catholic seminary, he was sent to destroy various Protestant organizations and discredit Protestant leaders, but became disillusioned upon finding that the Vatican was behind Freemasonry and that its reverence of the Virgin Mary was contradicted by the Bible. In 1965, at an Ecumenical Conference in a Guatemalan stadium, he denounced the Catholic Church to an audience of 50,000 people. The Jesuits then sent him to a top-secret psychiatric hospital in Spain to make him recant his faith. Here he was tortured and given poison until he nearly died, eventually being put into an iron lung because his lungs had broken down from the abuse. Nearly at death, he asked Jesus to forgive him and was miraculously healed. A senior Jesuit attempted to persuade Rivera to return to Catholicism, but instead was himself persuaded to give Rivera the passport and papers he needed to escape Spain. Afterwards he flew to London and saved his sister María, a nun, after she nearly died in a convent.
According to the Cornerstone exposé, Rivera had a 'history of legal entanglements' including fraud, credit card theft, and writing bad checks. Warrants had been issued for his arrest in New Jersey and Florida, and he was wanted by the Spanish police for 'swindles and cheats'; while in the U.S. in 1967, he claimed to be collecting money for a Spanish college, which never received this money. The details of his claims changed: In 1964 he said he had left the Catholic Church in July 1952, but he later put the date at March 20, 1967; despite this, he was still promoting Catholicism in a newspaper interview of August that same year. Although supposedly placed in the sanatorium in 1965 and held there for three months, he gave the date of his release as September 1967, leaving a period of over a year unaccounted.
The document exhibited by Rivera to prove his status as a Catholic priest was fraudulently obtained and the Catholic Church denies his claims of having been a Jesuit priest or a bishop. He had only one sister in London; she was not called Maria (her name was María Teresa), was not a nun, and did not live in a convent. In an employment form dated 1963 he claimed marriage to Carmen Lydia Torres, and the couple had two children in the U.S. when he was supposedly a celibate priest in Spain.
Cornerstone also questioned Rivera's claim to various degrees, including three doctorates (Th.D., D.D., and Ph.D.), reporting that his known chronology did not allow enough time for him to have completed these degrees and that he had admitted to receiving them from a Colorado diploma mill.
Allegations against Catholicism
According to Rivera, Jesuits are responsible for the creation of communism, Islam, and Nazism, and causing the World Wars, recession, the Jonestown Massacre, and the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy (a Catholic); he further claims that the Catholic Church wants to spread homosexuality and abortion, that the Charismatic Movement is a front for the Catholic Church, that the Popes are antichrists, and that the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon. He has also claimed that the Jesuits were the masterminds behind the Medieval Inquisition in the 13th century. The Jesuits were in fact founded in 1534.
Allegations that the Church created Islam
Rivera also alleged that Muhammad was manipulated by the Catholic Church to create Islam and destroy the Jews and other groups of Christians, and that his first wife, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, was actually a Catholic nun in an Arabian monastery who was told by a bishop to marry him and sow the seeds of what was to become Islam. Rivera also alleged that the Vatican staged an apparition at Fatima (named after Muhammed's daughter) to cozy up to Muslims. He further claims that it also staged the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II using a Muslim as the marksman "to guilt-induce the Muslim world, bringing them still closer to the Catholic faith!"
Presence in "Chick Tracts"
- Metz, Gary (1981). "The Alberto Story". Cornerstone 9 (53): 29–31. Archived from the original on 2005-12-02
- "Alberto Rivera: Is He For Real?". Christianity Today 2 (2). 1981-03-13
- Chick Publications - Alberto
- Catholic Answers Special Report: Chick Tracts
- Brian Onken, "Alberto: The Truth about His Story," Forward, February 25, 1983
- "Encyclopædia Britannica -- Jesuit".
- Chick Publications - The Godfathers
- Chick Publications - The Prophet
- "The Return of the "Antichrist Information Center". A Catholic Texan. 2007-09-07.
- "Rose Hill Memorial Park Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma". interment.net.
- "Who Was Alberto Rivera?" ("Chick Tracts: Their Origin and Refutation", part 3) from Catholic Answers